Microsoft Server 2003 End of Support

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How mixing business and comedy creates a stronger team

Guest Blog by Cindy Bates, Microsoft US SMB Group During a recent offsite meeting, my team had the privilege of seeing improv in action and most importantly, getting in on the fun. I’ve been a longtime fan of improv comedy for its ability to inspire creativity and cause spontaneous eruptions of laughter, but I was amazed to learn how easily it can translate into the business arena. Our session was led by Meagan Flanigan alongside a dynamic cast from Second City Works, the business solutions division of the improvisational comedy theatre, The Second City. After the meeting, I came across a great article Tom Yorto, CEO of Second City Works, wrote for the Harvard Business Review, where he shares tips for your team to cultivate clearer communication and engage more deeply. I’m already implementing some of the principles we learned, including embracing the ensemble mindset, and I hope your … [Read more...]

Sound Masking Basics

What is sound masking and why is it used? Sound masking is the addition of a familiar sounding, air conditioning-like background sound to an environment. Masking covers up or "masks" human speech and helps mitigate the distraction of other sounds, making an environment more comfortable, workers more productive and creating speech privacy. Here's an analogy. Imagine that you are in a darkened room and a child is flicking a flashlight on and off. The light is noticeable and distracting. Now imagine, the lights are on. The same flashlight is being flicked on and off-but without notice-it has been "masked." This is how sound masking works. Where is sound masking used? Sound masking is used anywhere speech privacy or speech confidentiality is desired or required and in any workspace to reduce distractions and improve productivity. The most typical installations are open office plans, … [Read more...]

Disaster Recovery Plans don’t have to be complicated

The hardest part of a Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery plan is getting started. The task can seem overwhelming because there are so many details in so many places. But don’t let the complexity stop you. Even if you can’t put together the entire disaster recovery plan at one sitting, tackle the largest risks. Start with manageable questions: Who should I contact in case of a disaster? Have contact information for key vendors, insurance contacts and key clients. Do my employees know how to contact me and each other? Keep a list of employees with mobile numbers. Do I have a contingency plan for working remotely? Cloud solutions are easily implemented for remote work, communication and presence management. Can I access my important company data? Data can be made available in the cloud with different levels of security. Can I rebuild my … [Read more...]

Rethink Business Connectivity

If you have been readying your company for the mobile workforce, chances are that your business rode out the recent winter storms with little disruption. Yet, for business owners feeling once burned and twice shy after back-to-back weather challenges, now is a good time to rethink your business connectivity and possibly explore an IT strategy that incorporates Cloud solutions. Keep in mind that the combination of Cloud applications for email/documents and mobile devices for on-the-go communication allows you to work anyplace, anytime. However, when using Hybrid-Cloud – some applications are on-premise (usually your office) and some in the Cloud – you may not be able to gain access to your on-premise applications. Of course, power outages are challenging for any technology. Work may prove difficult if the Internet connection is down – even for businesses that have built a Private … [Read more...]